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The First Rule of Mickey Mouse Club

10 Quick Thoughts on the Firing of Roseanne Barr

  1. Roseanne was out of work within a few hours of what was (even for her) a remarkably offensive Tweet. That’s the pace of news, culture, and politics in the internet age. Roseanne Barr had a job at ABC earlier today and I’m already woefully late with this thinkpiece.
  2. What makes this moment unique is Roseanne’s occupation, fame, and employer. Authoring racist and/or otherwise offensive material, personally attacking political opponents, and believing in a collection of wildly false narratives puts her in lockstep with what seems to be America’s fastest growing and most vocal political party. With all due respect to baseball, Roseanne was participating in America’s favorite pastime. If you see her as an outlier, you’re missing the point.
  3. While the bough-breaking Tweet stands alone, the bigger issue here is that Roseanne’s whole twitter feed is a cesspool of conspiracy theories and lies that are believed by tens of millions of ill-informed Americans. The racism and ignorance are widespread — and there is an entire media industry that has been fueling this fire for years. Roseanne isn’t the big problem here. It’s the millions of others who see her, and those like her (including the Troll in Chief), as truth-tellers.
  4. The Roseanne firing is a reminder of America’s modern truism. Everyone pays but Trump. He’s said much worse things than Roseanne … today.
  5. Trump pulled the cork on the bottled-up hate and rabid fantasies that Roseanne represents. But he didn’t have to pull very hard. The carbonated contents of that bottle have always been there, the pressure was building during the Obama era, and it was only a matter of time before the hazardous ooze was bursting in air.
  6. It’s worth considering the draw of social media. Roseanne had clearly been warned by Disney and begged by her castmates to tone down her offensive rhetoric on Twitter (in part to keep her from continuing to make a fool of herself). But she didn’t stop. Or maybe, she couldn’t stop (she certainly wouldn’t be the only one with that affliction). Even with her return to the top of the primetime heap, she felt compelled to join in the sick, political fight that has consumed so many Americans. She knew her career was on the line, and she still couldn’t resist making an pathetically unfunny joke. As much as the weakness of Roseanne Barr, this is a story of the powerful draw of social media. (Update: A few hours after leaving Twitter, Roseanne started Tweeting. She beat the over/under which was five minutes…)
  7. Roseanne, who is described as a good person by a lot of other comedians, has had a long history with unhinged social media outbursts. It was only a matter of time until she went too far. Sadly for the hundreds of people who lost their jobs today, she went too far at a moment when she had a successful gig.
  8. The fact that some Trump supporters see Roseanne’s firing for a racist tweet as an attack on them tells you a lot.
  9. Disney didn’t stop caring about the bottom line today. But times have changed and corporate governance has become more political. Everything has. That’s probably a net good thing (especially if corporations are on the right side of history), but let’s be clear: This was not a borderline situation. The first rule of Mickey Mouse Club is that you don’t put the Mickey Mouse brand into jeopardy. The second rule will be written on a pink slip. M-I-C (See you later) K-E-Y (Why? Because you’re a racist lunatic). Disney cares about the bottom line and here it is: They didn’t have any choice but to can Roseanne after her latest of many offensive outbursts. The only mistake they made was their bad bet that she would behave appropriately in the first place.
  10. The first and second iterations of Roseanne were important shows because they showed the lives of Americans too often ignored by television. I’d urge ABC and other outlets to find and broadcast more of these kinds of shows. We need media to be a window into each others lives, and not just a platform used to hurl insults at one another. The fact that we have one fewer of these shows is a bad thing. It’s just that Roseanne Barr’s behavior on Twitter was worse. Roseanne had to go. Too bad she had to take Roseanne with her…

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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